Monday, February 22, 2010

I could drink a case of monday

Coming off a semi-crippling evening of Sunday night blues (dark, cold, inert—and the cable box died), I've arrived (hardly fresh-faced) at Monday only to remember just how much my job inspires the general gnashing of my teeth.

I'm not being dramatic here. I work for the kind of person who calls an employee as they're leaving for a long weekend to say (in no uncertain terms) that they have to "step up." It's enough of a party foul to pull that sort of trick on a Friday—period, but to wait until the girl is already rolling her suitcase to the train station? Cruel. I don't even particularly like this girl, but you have to stick up for your fellow human. Especially when that same boss chose to begin this week by gravely declaring her "disappointment" in the numbers and saying she'll need me to start "helping out" with membership and making phone calls in the evenings, effectively demoting me back to the sales pit from whence I came.

I call shenanigans. But before I start tearing my head by the hair follicles, I'm going to revisit this ideology. Leave for the boat trip, put my money on the cosmos and let 'er ride.

If the infrastructure of my life should happen to collapse while I'm away: if my job becomes a retrograde nightmare and/or the G.I.Q. rescinds his affections, I will take that as the final sign in the tea leaves to make a damn change already—even if that means I can no longer afford to live in my lovely turret apartment in Storybookland, Astoria. I will be brave. I've done it enough before to know myself capable, but don't you ever wish you could just stop being so frigging brave someday?

Either way, I'm going to need a new therapist. The very nice lesbian Buddhist in the cowboy boots just isn't cutting it with her "Well, why do you think that is?" and her "Well, of course [your utter incoherence in ranting yourself into ever-spiraling and irrational self-destruction] makes sense." This is a woman who lauded my decision to stay with Peter against all odds, whether he ever got a job or ever wanted to marry me or ever stopped drinking himself into a daily coma) then the very next week hurrahed me for having the courage to break up. The woman who listens to me talk like this without seeing little red flags popping across her field of vision. Who has the nads to call me a strong and upstanding woman in the face of my clear capacity to self-sabotage and second-guess.

I'm going to need a little more than carte blanche here, folks.

Friday, February 19, 2010

near miss

It is official. I do not understand men.

I had been thinking, all this time, in re: the G.I.Q., that I was playing it tres cool—never initiating a kiss, never interfering on the dance floor, staying coolly a few paces out of his eye line (you know, just in case he didn't want to have to look at me.) Worst part is, I thought this was good behavior, enviable behavior. Worthy of mention or medal. I was the Girl Who Doesn't Take Up Any Space and I thought that a laudable pursuit.

It also bears mention that every time I've relaxed into this "thing," whatever it may be, there have been curve balls. This speaks to a much larger trend with me and Romance: the minute I get comfortable, the sky falls. Or so it would seem. Maybe the sky didn't fall last night, but there were plaster flakes drifting down like snow into my hair, and I looked up to see a big fat fracture in the firmament.

I want to be upset with him for playing mind games, for appearing to demand space, then wondering why I hesitate. That was the rant I had in mind at 2:49 am in the cab last night, zooming over the bridge to catch a pathetic four hours of sleep, but here it is morning and (shock of all shocks), my mood has shifted. Today I want to rant at myself, to slap myself across the face with a leather glove and say, "What the hell is the matter with you?" or "This means war." Sometimes I think if I actually followed through and spoke to myself in these bold faced platitudes, I might fare better. Who knows.

What I do know is this: I am a mess. What kind of self-possessed woman deliberately makes herself invisible to appeal to some fantasy she invented about what men want? Am I really so pathetic to think he won't want me if I show up and stand before him at full height? Short answer: yes. But nobody wants a stoic, stony-faced girl who doesn't order what she wants and who swallows her sentences so they won't be too loud.

He wonders why I couldn't hug him when he gave me those beautiful books, those glossy first edition Theroux tomes and the perfectly suited copy of Vox salvaged just for me from the floor to ceiling shelves of the bookstore. This is the moment I remember: when all I wanted was to throw my arms around his neck, one little shift in his seat, an almost imperceptible turn of the head in the opposite direction, was all it took to scare me into stillness. I choked because I thought he'd find the contact inappropriate. I cradled the books to my chest instead because I couldn't bury my face in his sweater and say thank you like I meant it. And then last night he wants to know why such a basic response eluded me.

What I should have said was, "Oh, I don't know, maybe because I imagine you sizing me up all the time, narrowing your eyes and planning your exit."

So now, instead of the cool and detached woman I thought I was playing, I am the little girl caught by her teacher. I have to own being so tangled in my own crippling insecurities that I can't even properly thank the man I'm involved with for his incredible thoughtful present. That I wait for him to invite me in because I'm afraid he'll cringe if I touch him.

Then I remember I spent the last three years with a man who recoiled at my kisses, who extricated his hand from mine after five seconds flat, and who would pull back from a hug so abruptly that I'd be left tottering in space to regain my footing. This was a man who loved me very much, just never in that one fundamental way.

So great. I think this is what we call a breakthrough. Who needs to cough up the co-pay for therapy?

No use standing in the corner until he loses interest, right? Because surely this meek and feeble chick routine will get old fast for both of us.

I need to learn how to be a girl. A girl who likes a boy, but isn't yet too far gone to see her heart poised beneath the guillotine. But a girl who can still say it to his face.

"I like you."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

it's eight pm, and where are your children?

Incredibly indulgent evening in which, upon return from the nine-to-five, I stripped to my skivvies, grabbed my book and my box of Valentine chocolates and crawled into bed for an epic, century-ending bitch of a nap.

Now, sheet-printed and disoriented, I'm making myself a grilled cheese that I will likely eat (with carrot sticks and a chocolate pudding cup) in front of some less-than-intellectual DVRed television before stepping out into the night for tango.

I can't decide if I sound like a proud five-year-old or a turn of the century harlot.

you know the toast isn't even warm

This has been one of those days that never gets off the tarmac.

First of all, I had a little too much wine last night, followed promptly by a little too much sangria. I broke my Wednesday routine and, thereby, my weekly rhythm, and I'm paying for it with this oppressive stupor. If life were fair, I would have spent this morning in my turret finishing Little Children and starting any one of the five or seven titles in the immediate queue (I'll say this for the G.I.Q., he really brings it bookwise).

The aforementioned stupor was probably worth it for the live music (wicked Cuban salsa band), the warmth and the gift of first editions. Forget sleep. I'll sleep when I'm dead.

But a night like that always leaves a funny taste in my mouth when I try to slog through the next day, as if I'm suddenly horrified by the routineness of my routine, suddenly straining at the reins—though precisely where I'd run if I ever broke free, who knows.

My perception of my own needs can hardly be trusted. If I had unlimited funds and full control of my faculties, I'd be on the next flight to Paris. Or Buenos Aires. Or Wyoming.

Wanderlust. I never said it was pretty, folks.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

the post about the play

I still don't know why I do this, if not to chronicle my goings and doings in a semi-anonymous format that allows me to speak honestly about the things I ordinarily couch in euphemism and politeness.

So it bears repeating that I made a whole production happen. Ex nihilo. And it was good.

I had lots of help (without which exactly nothing would have happened), but the fact remains: I adapted a script and produced a show and people came to see it and now it is over.

There was a blizzard, there were five weeks of sharing a room with Max, eating butternut squash soup and kale chips, and there were blurred strings of nights spent running from the nine-to-five to the theatre, speeding through sandwiches in the name of art.

Decisions were made, blurbs drafted and postcards printed. I wrote a few paragraphs to justify the endeavor to the viewing public and then we opened. Max left and others came to stay. There was stress and there was drama (not the least of which a product of my uncanny ability to cram the unlikeliest group of the tragically interconnected into one room with an almost absentminded inattention to the inevitable awkwardness).

Then, just as soon as it started, it was done. Non-date dropped me at my door with an armload of props and, as soon as I shut the door behind his retreating plaid flannel, I was all by myself. Alone in a quiet apartment that smelled of my mother's perfume with two bouquets of flowers and a thin layer of pervasive dust. Left to peel away the residue of eyelash glue and shower myself back to reality, to find some way of rooting my wet feet to the floor before the world blew away and darkness made its final descent.

By blessed coincidence, I had to rush back to the island for dinner. The Gentleman in Question and I met in a bright little cafe downtown, at a table covered in rose petals (I had nearly forgotten Valentine's Day except to send myself a pound of dark chocolates in a heart shaped box) and shared some octopus and sparkling wine. We ended the evening in bed with a Chartreuse nightcap and books, oh beautiful books. I swear that is not a euphemism for sex.

The subsequent "day off" (thank you Abe and George) was a blur of frenetic housecleaning, budget reconciling and enchilada making, in which I barely took the time to breathe.

So I'm finding it difficult, now, to convey the weight of that one moment, particularly since I've done everything in my power to fill these empty evenings since. But it was a moment, nonetheless. And now I am left to panic in its wake, to fight the urge to lie down and never do another thing in my life, to ride the high to something bigger and more beautiful than this trap I've set for myself. To show up and start doing what I said I would.

Note: guns-blazing black-or-white mood provided in part by Henry Miller and by the late night pep talks (thanks again, Max).

last week it snowed

So this happened.

We'll call it affectionately the Blizzard of Twenty-Ten, though by New England standards it was kitten stuff.

But it did make the bushes look like this:

And the Hellgate Bridge look like this:

And, like any ill-timed outburst of weather, this storm was a bit of a good luck charm.

We held a dress rehearsal in the snow and were subsequently blessed by four sold-out houses and an overwhelmingly positive response to our work.

I went from saying, "Dear God, I'll never produce again," to "Let me see if I can't find a little more funding so we can remount."

Watch out, world.

Friday, February 12, 2010

whenever one drifted petal leaves the tree

Decided I have been effectively thinking with three brains for the past five weeks.

Now that The Show has opened and I am running on negative sleep, green tea and adrenaline, I'm afraid I may have muddled them. I'm afraid I might be acting with my Producer brain, working with my Actor brain and producing with my Disgruntled Non-Profit brain. This is not an ideal situation for processing an event that has been months in the making and is 48 hours from being over, but, then again, I've always done life by the seat of my pants.

Monday, February 8, 2010

nine days away

Saw the Gentleman in Question Saturday night, which was both lovely and restorative. The gory details spared to protect the innocent, I would just like to say that I have come to a place. And in that place I am increasingly capable of being myself around him—quirks and all—because, well, shit, life is too short. If he doesn't like me as is, why waste time trying to impress him with artificial aloofness and put-on cool? I'm a red hot mess. I operate at a deficit between perpetual panic and brute melancholy. I laugh too loud, I love too fast, I whimper in my sleep and I speak in screwy metaphors. Take me or leave me.

Perfect illustration: I explain the hope I glean every year at about this time from one particular phrase whose issue reminds me that the long, cold, lonely winter is nearing conclusion—quite possibly the most beautiful string of words in the English language—and he says:

"By which you mean . . . "Happy Valentine's Day?"

And I respond: "Hell no. Pitchers and catchers report."

hell week, day one

Instead of watching the Super Bowl last night, I made black bean chili and guacamole and hosted a mini-marathon of the original Star Wars trilogy. This made me miss my Home Boys something fierce. Guys, if you're reading this, you ought to know that you figure prominently in my warmest memories of adolescence and I thank you for that. It meant the world to me to have you all passing out under Twister mats in the Blue Room while I honed my nascent housewifery in the kitchen. Even when Boom made fun of me for it. Even when I put olive oil in the popcorn.

Despite a failed run for brownie mix, last night was a success: good company, plentiful beer, emergency Haagen Dazs. Morale was high (and although I haven't danced since my lesson on Friday, I'm smart enough to know that I needed an evening in.)

Tonight, we tech The Show. And so it begins. I will say this: It may be 27 degrees outside, but the sky is so storm-cleared and blue that it can't help but suggest the eventuality of Spring.

Friday, February 5, 2010

flash bulb

I'm sitting at my desk eating one of those cultured coconut milk "faux"gurts (because I eat strange and healthy crap like that) and it tastes like vacation. Thanks to a flavor known as "Passionate Mango," I am momentarily transported to a land of tropical fruit and suntan lotion, and then—wham—I realize that by this time in three weeks, I will be on a catamaran in Tortola.

I'm still not sure I deserve to be on said catamaran, but coming out of the sinuously stressful tunnel of producing The Show, having ground my molars to nubs, slept restively, jumped at every shadow, this gives me a most dizzying sense of impending peace.

Realization number two: life is so much shorter than I ever thought it would be. I haven't seen Peter Pan's parents in weeks, despite my every intention to "still be around." This is sad, to me somehow. I miss them more than I ever thought I would.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

minor annoyance

I wasn't feeling as fat as usual when I got dressed this morning, so I wore a bodysuit under my wool skirt and tights under that because, well, there is ice on the ground.

In so doing, I effectively booby-trapped myself. With the obscene amount of water I drink at the office, I've had to pee pretty much every hour on the hour. Today, of course, that simple act requires me to perform the acrobatic feat of removing every stitch of my clothing in our tiny staff bathroom then reassembling myself.

The day has gone much faster for this.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

in which I wax splenetic

I never say this here, because I'll likely be caught and fired immediately, but I hate my job.

(There. I said it. Right out in the open internet.)

I'm sitting in my windowless cubby, under a huge, dehumanizing fluorescent light strip, staring at a computer screen and waiting for my life to happen. I spent the morning at a women-in-business networking breakfast where I listened to a roomful of ladies in power suits pimp themselves to each other by passing out business cards and using phrases like "my industry," "consulting management" and "start-up" and pretending that Twitter is a valid field of study. How these women sat through business school without puncturing their veins with a ballpoint pen I do not know. I could never be a captain of industry. I'm probably smart enough—I just very fundamentally do not give a shit.

My job has the potential to be great. Most of what I do is at least 60% creative or project oriented and my overall aim is to raise money to help people. The mission of our organization inspires me daily. That said, any warm fuzzies to be found here are almost instantly negated by the overall douchebaggery rampant in the working world.

My ideas may be good and my ass may be on the line, but I remain a pawn. I work for people who want it both ways. "That is your responsibility," they say, but they also have said (and I quote), "You are the help—and the help move boxes. You don't make decisions."

Thing is, would it be better anywhere else? The more hours I put in, the more ass I kiss, the more Henry Miller I read . . . the less I feel like spinning the plates.

I don't belong in the office world. I never have. My tolerance for politics and posturing and the writing of memoranda was questionable to begin with and plummets daily. I get increasingly angry at the futility of how we these forty hour weeks are spent, then angrier again at myself for my own deficiency. Why can't I just be a good little girl, keep my nose clean and my chin up?

Oh. Right. The curse of the artistic temperament. Damn.

More on my permanent disillusionment with adulthood later.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

my little pink heart on its little brown raft

If I had the scratch, I would treat myself to this necklace as a Valentine's reminder (slash: bronzed badge of courage). A freestanding symbol. Or something to that effect.

I would woo myself. Of myself, by myself . . . for myself.

*But—alas—I am broke.

poem of the week


All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now,
and after this one just a dozen
to launch a little ship on love's storm-tossed seas,
then only ten more left like rows of beans.
How easily it goes unless you get Elizabethan
and insist the iambic bongos must be played
and rhymes positioned at the ends of lines,
one for every station of the cross.
But hang on here wile we make the turn
into the final six where all will be resolved,
where longing and heartache will find an end,
where Laura will tell Petrarch to put down his pen,
take off those crazy medieval tights,
blow out the lights, and come at last to bed.

- Billy Collins from Sailing Alone Around the Room, 1999.

punk ass punxsutawney

The overgrown rat we have elevated to celebrity status has once again predicted six more weeks of winter. That little shit is even more pessimistic than I am.

I am done with this cold. You hear me northwestern hemisphere? I've had enough! I long for the time when dressing for both work and tango will no longer entail a brush with certain hypothermia. (Can we also please address the current trend of tights made of string in interesting patterns? They are not warm.)

And yet, I fall in love in the winter. I don't know why. It is as if I go down to the underworld with Persephone every year, following yet another man who belongs in such a place, leaving a trail of pomegranate seeds behind me and emerging in the Spring to a crowd of "I told you so"s and other pities, just when I'm meant to be celebrating and sowing oats and flapping ribbons in the breeze . . .

I'm not there this time, but the wistfulness is all over me. Not surrendering to my baser impulses—if love is indeed the dirty fall from grace I now think it is—makes for quite the feat. How long can she stay this strong, you ask, with the trees this barren and the air this cold? Surely a faceless, beflanneled suitor will get the better of her, in a frayed wool sweater, offering her a place by the bookcase and the fire. And won't you just click your tongue at that . . . Poor, stupid girl with a habit of making poor, stupid choices.

Monday, February 1, 2010

studiously aloof, chapter two: not going home with him

That's right, world. I went home to my own bed and my little girl pajamas in my turret in Queens, where I belong—while the icy city quieted down and other, weaker women went home to riotous nights of passion. (The fools!)

What a weekend it turned out to be. I danced for the better part of twelve hours on Saturday, and by the time I ended up at the All-Night, my legs were quivering under my weight and I could hardly feel my feet as they grazed the floor and pushed ever behind me, backwards in heels. By 4:30 am, previously undiscovered muscles had begun to announce themselves and were aching something furious. Great night.

Sunday evening found me sampling cheese and wine with The Gentleman in Question and his (in a strange and humbling turn of events). So my weekend ended with a kiss I will not soon (but will likely spend the better part of the week trying to) forget.

Lucky for me, my cup already runneth over. The Show looms on the calendar in big, block letters. I will admit, I look forward to clearing my focus, strapping up the character shoes and inhabiting someone else for the next two weeks. Even if that someone else is a caricature of womanly neuroses a little too close for comfort. Time for the asceticism of performing. Nights blocked off like rows of reserved seating. The theatre a magnet in your life.